I was fortunate and my recent blog post about Google was linked to on two high traffic sites: Hacker News and Daring Fireball. I'm grateful; their audiences are just who I wanted to reach with that post. Also they drive a lot of traffic to feed my ego.
I'm struck by how front-loaded the traffic is. Hacker News is on the left (total: 20,000). Daring Fireball on the right (5000). The front spike is particularly notable with Daring Fireball; the moment John posted that to his blog around 1PM California time I hit peak traffic from him and four hours later it'd mostly died out. How does that work so fast? Surely people aren't just reloading his blog all day. RSS readers? Twitter?
I'm also pleased poor ol' Blosxom kept up; the last time I got a lot of traffic was a mess. Back then I died at a pathetic 4qps; this time I hit 10x that without breaking a sweat. The key thing is using Apache's threaded worker MPM instead of the horribly obsolete prefork MPM. I now have 1000 server threads to serve all those parallel fetching, socket-camping modern web browsers. Even better would be a proper non-blocking server but Apache's worker MPM is still labelled "experimental" and I don't want to deal with some other HTTP server right now. I did go ahead and switch some images to inline data: URLs; should be an improvement.
I've switched this blog to explicitly serve everything in UTF-8 encoding. Before I didn't think much about it and confined myself to ASCII and hoped for the best. Now I can just type "François Rabelais or Björk Guðmundsdóttir or 艾未未" directly and not HTML entity escape it. If you notice any errors, please let me know.
I was surprised to learn there are at least four ways for a web page to declare their encoding. (Or charset, the terms are ambiguous.) Annoyingly the web server's HTTP header declaration overrides whatever encoding the document itself declares via a <meta> tag. I think that was back in the fantasy world where servers would negotiate content types and transcode on the fly. These days unless you're writing in Chinese or are a super-duper expert you should always be using UTF-8.
Unrelated, thanks to Aristotle for finding a bug in the updated tags on my Atom feed. I'd hacked some Perl code and forgot how Perl scoping works.
I've migrated this weblog to a new host. You shouldn't notice any changes, if you're reading this post you're already reading it on the new server. But if you notice something wrong (or if it works and you feel chatty) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm a bit disappointed I haven't yet switched weblog software. I'm still using Blosxom, an idiosyncratic if capable Perl script I've been running for 8 years now. The only real drawback is lack of modern blog editing tools. The main reason I haven't switched is none of the hosted services have a good way for keeping my weird old URLs working. Also I've recently needed a real server in a datacenter for some projects so it's easier and cheaper to just move to a new host.
The new server is at 188.8.131.52, hosted by Wholesale Internet in Kansas City. They seem like a good small server option: $70/month for a decent dedicated, self-managed server. I also took the chance to move from Debian to Ubuntu Server, some of my reactions to that change on my secret work blog. I sure wish I had a better way to manage a server than logging into it and modifying random config files all over /etc. Puppet and Chef are way too much work for a single casual server and Blueprint, while cool, is a bit too simple minded.
Hat tip to Adam Fast for recommending Wholesale Internet
I've long thought my linkblog has better content than my real blog. It's just a simple list of things I find interesting online: URL, title, short comment. About 5 links a day and I write for an audience; this isn't just my personal bookmarks.
I just set up @somebitsLinks, a copy of my linkblog on Twitter. Tweets are a good medium for linkblogs, I hope some folks appreciate being able to see what I write there. Try it out, tell me what you think!
The Twitter feed is implemented by sending the Pinboard RSS to Twitter via dlvr.it, a third party product. It's a nice service, has a variety of options for filtering and routing stuff from A to B. I'm hopeful it'll have Google+ support as soon as Google gets its act together. They support Facebook now but that seems spammy. The one drawback is dlvr.it rewrites and shortens my links before they get to Twitter, doubly annoying now that Twitter in turn rewrites and shortens the links again. Sorry about that.
I've moved my linkblog to Pinboard. If you follow it already you'll want to update your RSS subscription. If you don't follow it, you should! My linkblog has better content than this text blog. Links are on the sidebar at left but best enjoyed via your RSS reader of choice.
Many thanks to the Delicious and Yahoo crew; they served me well for hosting for four years. I decided not to follow along with the AVOS purchase, not for any particular reason but because it seemed uncertain. A big thank you to Joshua and Delicious for having a fantastic, easy export of all my data. That's an important user right more sites should support and more users should demand.
Pinboard works great and is simple. I like that I'm a (modestly) paying customer. I particularly appreciate that the search function works so well: Yahoo never got that right. I was also impressed by Maciej's postmortem when the site got crushed after the Delicious shutdown rumour. He's a smart engineer. All the cool kids seem to be on Pinboard now, I'm in good company.
I need some help. How do I migrate this blog with content intact to a modern blog host? Mail me if you have advice.
This blog has run for 8 years on Blosxom, hosted on a private Linux box. It's worked great, Blosxom really is a marvel of simplicity. But the world has moved on. I'm sick of editing HTML text and I'm tired of paying $120/month for a server that no longer does anything but run this blog.
So I need to migrate my blog to a new platform. A hosted platform, specific for blogs, I don't want to administer software. Where should I go? My secret gaming blog is hosted on TypePad, which works pretty well, but the editor isn't always well behaved on Google Chrome and I don't always like the way it emits HTML and manages assets. WordPress is the other contender, but my previous experiments with it didn't quite feel right. Tumblr is awfully cool but doesn't seem suited to essayists. It pains me not to even consider Blogger, but years of neglect at Google have taken their toll. Really any of these platforms would do fine. What I care most about is a bit of control: I don't want a lot of garbage markup and template weirdness.
The harder problem is content migration. I've got 1400 blog posts, mostly formatted in naked HTML but with some occasional weirdness. And a custom stylesheet. And 800 images. I had some luck getting Blosxom to emit MovableType's import format but a lot of formatting was broken. And image migration is a challenge.
Any suggestions? I've been meaning to do this for six months and gotten nowhere. Please mail me: I'll summarize any suggestions with credit.
If you subscribe to my blog in a feed reader I recommend you switch to my new Atom feed. I've been publishing a hacky old RSS 0.91 feed for years, but Atom's better in every way. Big advantage to you, the reader: if I make a minor update to a post you won't see it as a new post. No rush, I'll keep the old RSS feed working for awhile still.
It's ironic how long it took me to publish an Atom feed. I was at the first shadowy cabal meetings that led to the Atom spec, I wrote an early Atom feed for Blosxom, and I've long advocated using Atom over RSS. But Atom's a fairly complicated format and I wanted to get it right, so I never did it. RSS is ugly, but that can be liberating.
I've moved my little linkblog over to del.icio.us. Everything should work the same as before and the RSS feed is redirected to its new home. But I had to mix a few different flavours of chewing gum to hold this together; if something went wrong, please mail me.
Why the change? Because linkblogs are most interesting as a social phenomenon and I wanted to share my linkblog with a bunch of other people. And because I like outsourcing the hosting of the things I do. The del.icio.us data model is close enough to my own that it was an easy shift. Who knows, I may even do the tagging thing the kids these days are into.
The migration was surprisingly difficult. I ran into a couple of rate limiting problems moving 4200 links into del.icio.us (one of which I fixed). Even now the result isn't perfect; delicious claims to only update the RSS feed every 30 minutes so my linkblog in the left column on my blog will now have a posting delay. But the data is all in a central place now and I have less code to maintain; the change was worth the effort.
I finally settled on a domain name for myself. I've set up a bunch of redirects to move my blog to its new official home, http://www.somebits.com/weblog/. The old ~nelson was all nice and Web 0.9, but it's time to move on. Please update your links so Googlebot has no trouble finding me! The linkblog moved, too.
If you notice any problems, please mail me.
This seems like a good time to give a tip of the hat to Drrt, Dugsong, and the other good folks of monkey.org whose name I've been using for so long. They're a neat geek collective coming originally from University of Michigan and number among them some of the best Unix security hackers out there. I'll continue to do various things over there, but it's nice to have a name of my own too.
Thanks to François my linkblog is now in Hot Links, the cool linkblog aggregator. Hit the 4+ page for a quick view of what the linkblog world is thinking about. Or look at me at 2+ to see what links I share with others.
I love Hot Links because the design is good and the thumbnails are surprisingly useful. For another linkblog aggregator (more data, less design) see delicious. And of course daypop, Blogdex, and Technorati give a view of what's hot in blogs in general.